Chinese search-engine giant Baidu Inc. has selected BlackBerry Ltd. to provide the safety operating system for the Apollo autonomous driving system, which is being developed in co-operation with several vehicle makers.
The Apollo system is a key part of Baidu's plans for developing driverless cars with Chinese automobile makers such as Chery Automobile, the FAW Group, Changan Automobile and Great Wall Motors.
The companies say BlackBerry's QNX automotive unit has been selected to provide the ASIL-D safety operating system for Apollo, which Baidu has been championing as an open-source technology program.
The companies also plan to integrate Baidu's CarLife software for connecting smartphones and cars, Baidu's DuerOS AI conversational system and the BlackBerry QNX car infotainment platform.
Baidu says it has more than 70 partners in its Apollo program, including vehicle assembly companies, Tier 1 parts suppliers and technology startups.
BlackBerry (TSX:BB) – which has been repositioning itself as a cybersecurity, software and intellectual property supplier – is also working with many of the automotive industry's major chip makers and parts suppliers.
It’s developed about 12 different software modules beyond infotainment systems that were a major part of its QNX operating unit.
Locally, BlackBerry QNX is the centre of Ottawa’s autonomous vehicle cluster. Slightly more than a year ago, it announced plans to spend $650 million to establish an Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre in Kanata and hire an extra 650 employees.
Last October, BlackBerry QNX conducted the first on-road autonomous vehicle test in Canada on Legget Drive.
CEO John Chen said last month after announcing the company's third-quarter results that BlackBerry is making good progress towards being a key software supplier for autonomous vehicles.
It announced last month that it will partner with Japan-based Denso Corp., one of Toyota's technology suppliers, to work with Intel to develop an integrated platform for co-ordinating various human-machine interfaces.
- With files from OBJ staff